From School Library Journal
Grade 7 Up–In this thriller, 13-year-old Kyra lives in an isolated polygamist cult. Life in the compound is as dry as the surrounding desert, more confining than the chain-link fence on its perimeter. But Kyra finds small freedoms despite the tightly controlled communal environment and is able to slip outside to wander the desert. There she chances upon a friendly book-mobile driver who opens the world of children's literature to her. Kyra even begins a flirtation with her classmate, Joshua, a dangerous sin for which they will both pay dearly. The brutal leader, Prophet Childs, has plans for Kyra and will brook no disobedience. He assigns her to be the seventh wife of her own 60-year-old uncle. Repelled, she resists. She and Joshua are badly beaten and she is told that other young people have been killed for taking a similarly defiant stand. Kyra's loving father is powerless to help her and counsels her to accept her fate, but she cannot. The story ends in a high-speed chase with the Prophet's goons gunning for her as she improbably races toward freedom in the blood-spattered book mobile. Has the friendly driver been killed on her account? Is anyone looking for him? What retribution will be taken on her family and what kind of a life lies ahead for her? These unsettling questions are not addressed, but these omissions do not diminish the relief of her successful escape. For a more layered examination of the internal as well as external struggles of a young teen coming of age in a polygamist community, see Shelley Hrdlitschka's Sister Wife
(Orca, 2008).–Carolyn Lehman, Humboldt State University, Arcata, CA
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Taking a story “ripped from the headlines,” Williams looks inside a polygamist cult and the dangers it poses for one girl. Kyra and her father, three mothers, and 20 siblings live in an isolated community under the thumb of a prophet, who controls every aspect of his apostles’ lives. The most shocking intrusion of all comes when the prophet decrees that Kyra is to become the wife of her 60-year-old uncle. A secret patron of a local mobile library, Kyra knows there’s a world away from the compound she might escape to, but first she pins her hopes on her father’s ability to change the prophet’s mind. Instead, her family is threatened, and the stakes for her refusal to marry are raised. The clandestine relationship Kyra is having with one of the compound’s teenage boys is a romance more convenient than convincing (everyone is carefully watched except this duo, it seems). Contrivances notwithstanding, this is a heart pounder, and readers will be held, especially as the danger escalates. Williams’ portrayals of the family are sharp, but what’s most interesting about this book is how the yearnings and fears of a character so far from what most YAs know will still seem familiar and close. Grades 7-10. --Ilene Cooper